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Published on February 12, 2020

8 Ways to Change Your Self-Sabotaging Behaviors

8 Ways to Change Your Self-Sabotaging Behaviors

Self sabotaging. This is the tiny voice within us that quietly repeats the same sentence over and over again until we listen to it. It is not a sentence that enables us to live a joyful, successful life.

In fact, it is a sentence that holds us back from living life to the fullest, and when we listen to it, we forgo our dreams and goals. That one sentence, if we allow it to, can have a lot of control over how we live our lives.

“As I look into my life, I might ask, ‘Who is the person that represents the greatest threat to me?’ And if I happen to have a mirror around somewhere, I can rather quickly answer that question.” – Craig D. Lounsbrough

This quote describes pretty well what self-sabotage is all about. Self-sabotage is an internal process that we all have within ourselves, whether it be through thoughts or behaviors that keep us from what we desire most in life.

What Is the One Sentence That Our Subconscious Tells Us?

“You can’t do this.”

This tiny but powerful voice comes from our subconscious. Our subconscious is designed to protect us from harm and help us manage our fears. Now, when we use our subconscious in a productive way, it can help us navigate through tricky situations.

The problem, however, is that our subconscious can become very overprotective and over time can have a negative influence on us, holding us back from achieving success and happiness in our lives.

Are You Self Sabotaging?

“Stop standing in your own way. Stop making excuses. Stop talking about why you can’t. Stop sabotaging yourself. Decide what direction you are going in and take action. One decision at a time, one moment at a time.” – Akiroq Brost

If you are nodding yes to all the things that Akiroq Brost is saying in his quote above, then that is a very good indication that you are self-sabotaging and preventing yourself from achieving all your goals and dreams in life.

What Are Self-Sabotaging Behaviors?

Many of us have engaged in self-sabotaging behaviors that have become habits. We allow these behaviors and thoughts to continually undermine our success and happiness. Some of our self sabotage is so subtle, it’s easy to miss.

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We often fail to recognize how our actions are hurting us. However, there are common actions, thoughts, and behaviors that signal that you are self-sabotaging.

3 Powerful Self-Sabotaging Habits and Behaviors to Be Aware Of

1. Procrastination

If you are setting goals, working on projects, and not achieving anything – in fact, if you are doing lots of thinking but taking no action – then you are definitely procrastinating. In this case, self-sabotaging thoughts could definitely be ruling your life.

Learn more about procrastination: What is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide).

2. The Inner Critic

Negative self-talk: what you say to yourself – your inner dialogue – can have either a positive influence on your life or a negative influence. If you are constantly criticizing yourself and your self-talk is always negative, then self sabotage is in control of your life.

3. Perfectionism

Perfectionism is a very subtle self-sabotaging behavior because you can always rationalize why you should listen to that voice in your head saying, “It has to be the right time, or I am not quite ready to take action.”

Perfectionism stops you from moving forward and closes you down to any opportunities that will take you out of your comfort zone. Your subconscious is there to keep you safe, and it likes the comfort zone, so it will do anything to keep you there – hence pushing down all those thoughts that keep you from doing anything courageous and daring.

How to Stop Self Sabotaging?

“You can’t imagine just how much believing in negative thoughts is affecting your life…until you stop.” – Charles F. Glassman

Everyone self sabotages – it is what we humans do. Some of us, however, have learned how to manage our self-sabotaging behaviors so that they no longer stop us from achieving our goals and dreams in life.

We all have one gift that can help us take control of our lives for the better. This gift is our power of choice.

By taking action and using your power of choice, you are able to take control and proactively manage your self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviors so they no longer have a negative influence on your life.

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You get to choose the life you want to live and how you want to live it. That is a powerful and wonderful thing to achieve in life!

Along with you using your power of choice, here are 8 steps you can start taking immediately to stop self sabotaging your success in life:

1. Understand Self Sabotage

To manage the behaviors that have a negative influence on your life, you need to understand what self sabotage means for you.

The reasons we engage in self-sabotaging behaviors are complex. However, the root of the problem is often low self-worth. This can lead to us feeling the need to be in control, or feeling inadequate or like a fraud.

Self sabotage can trick you into feeling that you are protecting yourself from disappointment or failure when, in reality, these behaviors are limiting you from reaching your true potential. The more aware you are of the negative thoughts and behaviors that control your life, the easier it is to decide what you want to do about them.

This is when your power of choice comes into play. Choose not to be the greatest obstacle in achieving your dreams.

2. Use Strategies to Help You Manage Avoidance and Procrastination

“The more you resist, the more it will persist.”

This is a saying that has stayed with me for many years. I am a great procrastinator, and the more I avoid taking action, the more my anxiety builds up. The best way to overcome procrastination is to have strategies in place that will force you to be accountable to take action.

For example, make a to-do list that outlines every step involved in achieving the project outcomes.

Or, have a daily to-do list that prioritizes the tasks and activities that must be achieved at the end of the day. Make sure that you have no more than 3 tasks that are a top priority and must be done.

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Read more about how to make successful to-do lists: The Right Way to Make a To Do List and Get Things Done.

3. Find Your Inner Positive Voice

What often holds us back in life is fear, and when we hear that inner critic telling us that we shouldn’t do something, we are afraid that it might be right! We start to believe that we don’t deserve happiness or that we are a failure.

The best way to manage your inner critic and the fear that comes with it is by not engaging in what it is saying. Meditation, mindfulness, exercise, celebrating success, keeping a gratitude journal, and helping others are examples of how you can build your inner voice to where it has a positive influence on your life.

New to mindfulness? Read 7 Simple Tricks To Bring More Mindfulness Into Your Life.

4. Change Your Patterns of Behavior

Everything you achieve is a direct result of your actions. Learn how to control your negative habits and your fear of failure will diminish. Take control your achievements and focus on those behaviors that will reduce your stress over time.

Recognize that your negative actions and behaviors come from a place of low self-worth. Understand your limitations and look for opportunities where you focus on self-improvement.

Focus on reducing your “mental clutter” because when you do this, you will find you will have more energy and time to correct the thinking and behaviors that are not serving you well.

5. Make Small, Meaningful Changes

No form of personal change happens overnight, so be prepared for the journey of change. The best way to stay on this journey is to accept that real change happens one step at a time.

Consistently appreciating the incremental improvements you are making will overtime produce a significant and long-lasting change for the better in your life. It can be very helpful to ask yourself, “How can I improve this by one percent?” rather than asking, “How can I eliminate this self-sabotaging habit?”

6. Set Goals and Plans

Everyone needs a destination or an idea of what they want to achieve, whether it be in life or while working on a project. Having set goals and plans in life gives you clarity and focus and as a result, helps you to stay on track.

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You are less likely to get distracted, procrastinate, and be influenced by your inner self-critic. You will also find that you will be a more effective decision maker because you will have the clarity and the confidence to move forward, which is what effective decision making is all about.

Master the decision-making process! How to Make a Decision: The Secret to Making the Right Decision Fast.

7. Surround Yourself with Positive People

When we are immersed in a life of self sabotage, we tend to inadvertently surround ourselves with people who are in the same predicament. These people feed off each other’s negative energy.

There is no hope for you to make the changes you need if you continue to surround yourself with negative people – they will suck your energy. The more positive and upbeat people you have in your life, the more chance you have to make the changes you need to move forward.

If you want to live a fulfilled and happy life, surround yourself with people who are living the kind of life you desire. Observe their behaviors, their actions, and their language and then integrate all the things you like into your life as well.

8. Practice Self Acceptance and Self Care

Making changes in your life requires time and energy. You can’t ask yourself to make big changes if your energy levels are depleted.

Find ways for you to replenish your energy levels so that you are able to make those changes you need to commit to your journey of change. Be honest with yourself and explore activities that give you the space to reflect and replenish.

There are so many things you can do, so go find that activity or exercise that works for you – go out and explore. Try different things: try yoga or meditation, join a gym, learn to ride a horse, learn to ski. The list can go on.

The one thing for you to keep in mind is that consistent activity brings positive energy into your life, and with this energy, you will find that your self-belief and self-worth will flourish. Self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviors will no longer have any control over your life.

The Bottom Line

“The most dangerous way we sabotage ourselves is by waiting for the perfect moment to begin. Nothing works perfectly the first time, or the first fifty times. Everything has a learning curve. Learn to learn, learn to fail, learn to learn from failing. And begin today. Begin now. Stop waiting.” – Vironka Tugaleva.

Self sabotaging is something that almost everyone struggles with at some point in their lives. The important thing is to acknowledge that it happens, remind ourselves that we are not to blame, and take steps to stop self-sabotaging behaviors. Doing this will help us life happier, more successful lives.

Featured photo credit: Callie Morgan via unsplash.com

More by this author

Kathryn Sandford

Career Resilience Coach passionate about supporting others to grow and thrive in a complex world.

10 Things You Can Do Now to Change Your Life Forever Don’t Know What to Do with Your Life? 5 Steps to Get Unstuck How to Release Anger Without Hurting Others How to Persevere (And Get Ahead!) When the Going Gets Tough What Is the Purpose of Life and What Should You Live For?

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Last Updated on May 22, 2020

What Makes a Good Leader: 9 Critical Leadership Qualities

What Makes a Good Leader: 9 Critical Leadership Qualities

The word “leader” makes you think of people in charge, high-ranking people: your boss, politicians, presidents, CEOs…

But leadership really isn’t about a particular position or a person’s seniority. Just because someone has worked for many years doesn’t mean s/he has gained the qualities and skills to lead a team.

Getting promoted to a managerial position doesn’t automatically turn you into a leader either. CEOs and other high-ranking officials don’t always have great leadership skills.

So what makes a good leader? What are the characteristics of a leader?

Good leadership is about acquiring and honing specific skills. Leadership skills enable you to be a role model for a team in any environment. With great leadership qualities, successful leaders come in all shapes and sizes: in the home, at school, or in the workplace.

The following are some of the many characteristics great leaders exhibit.

1. A Positive Attitude

Great leaders know that they won’t have a happy and motivated team unless they themselves exhibit a positive attitude. This can be done by remaining positive when things go wrong and by creating a relaxed and happy atmosphere in the workplace.

Even some simple things like providing snacks or organizing a team Happy Hour can make a world of difference. An added perk is that team members are likely to work harder and do overtime when needed if they’re happy and appreciated.

Even in the worst situations, such as experiencing low team morale or team members having made a big mistake at work, a great leader stays positive and figures out ways to keep the team motivated to solve the problems.

Walt Disney had his share of hardships and challenges, and like any great leader, he managed to stay positive and find new opportunities. In 1928, Disney found that his film producer, Charles Mintz, wanted to reduce his payments for the Oswald series. Mintz threatened to cut ties entirely if Disney didn’t accept his terms, and Disney chose to part ways. But in leaving Oswald, Disney decided to create something new: the iconic Mickey Mouse[1].

The key is to break down huge challenges into smaller ones and find ways to tackle them one by one.

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Think about the lessons you can learn from the mistake and jot them down because sometimes you win, and sometimes you learn.

2. Confidence

All great leaders have to exhibit an air of confidence if they’re going to succeed. Please don’t confuse this with self-satisfaction and arrogance. You want people to look up to you for inspiration, not so they can punch you in the face.

Confidence is important because people will be looking to you on how to behave, particularly if things aren’t going 100% right. If you remain calm and poised, team members are far more likely to as well. As a result, morale and productivity will remain high, and the problem will be solved more quickly.

If you panic and give up, they will know immediately and things will simply go downhill from there.

Elon Musk is a great example of a leader with confidence. He truly believes that Tesla will be successful, which he has shown many times through his actions. He converted 532,000 stock options at $6.63 each, their value on Dec. 4, 2009, before Tesla went public. It was a hefty bargain considering Tesla’s stock price stood at around $195 per share at that time. He doesn’t apologize for his beliefs and has drawn fire from just about everyone for his political actions.

You can’t instantly become a very confident person, but all the small things you do every day will gradually make you more confident:

  • List 5 things you like about yourself every day (something different every day), and you’ll appreciate yourself more.
  • Work on your strengths and do your best to enhance them.

3. A Sense of Humor

It’s imperative for any kind of leader to have a sense of humor, particularly when things go wrong. And they will.

Your team members are going to be looking to you for how to react in a seemingly dire situation. It would probably be best if you weren’t stringing up a noose for yourself in the corner. You need to be able to laugh things off because if staff morale goes down, so will productivity.

Establish this environment prior to any kind of meltdown by encouraging humor and personal discussions in the workplace.

As a president, Barack Obama exuded confidence and calm during stressful situations. But he was also known for his “dad jokes,”[2] his genuinely funny speeches at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and appearing on Zack Galifianakis’s Between Two Ferns.[3] Obama’s sense of humor made him grounded, realistic, and honest, which no doubt helped during some tense moments in the White House!

Learn to laugh at yourself. Confident people laugh about their own silly mistakes, and when you do this, others will also trust you more because you’re willing to share your experiences.

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Be observant and learn from the jokes others make. You can also get a lot of inspiration from the internet.

4. Ability to Embrace Failure

No matter how hard you try to avoid it, failures will happen; that’s okay. You just need to know how to deal with them.

Great leaders take them in strides. They remain calm and logically think through the situation and utilize their resources. What they don’t do is fall apart and reveal to their team how worried they are, which leads to negative morale, fear, and binge-drinking under desks.

Great leaders do, in fact, lead, even when they’re faced with setbacks.

Henry Ford experienced a major setback after designing and improving the Ford Quadricycle. He founded the Detroit Automobile Company in 1899, but the resulting cars they produced did not live up to his standards and were too expensive. The company dissolved in 1901. Ford took this in stride and formed the Henry Ford Company. The sales were slow and the company had financial problems; it wasn’t until 1903 that the Ford Motor Company was successful and put the Ford on the map.

Get to the root cause of any problem so you can prevent it from happening again and learn from the mistake.

By asking “why” 5 times (or more) on why something happened, you can find out the key factor that caused the problem and can find the best solution to tackle the problem.

You’ll also learn how to prevent this from happening again in the future after finding out a problem’s root cause.

5. Careful Listening and Feedback

This is far more complex than it actually sounds. Good communication skills are essential for a great leader. You may very well understand the cave of crazy that is your brain, but that doesn’t mean that you can adequately take the ideas out of it and explain them to someone else.

The best leaders need to be able to communicate clearly with the people around them. They also need to be able to interpret other people properly and not take what they say personally.

The Dalai Lama, as a symbol of the unification of the state of Tibet, represents and practices Buddhist values. The Dalai Lama’s leadership is benevolent and aims toward truth and understanding, alongside the other Buddhist precepts. This is a great example for all leaders: if you want to give good directions to others, you have to get feedback from others to understand the situation properly.

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Encourage communication between team members and establish an open door policy.

Practice not interrupting team members when they’re talking. Instead, summarize what they say and ask for feedback after you have talked about your ideas.

6. Knowing How and When to Delegate

No matter how much you might want to, you can’t actually do everything yourself. Even if you could, in a team environment that would be a terrible idea anyway.

Good leaders recognize that delegation does more than simply alleviate their own stress levels (although that’s obviously a nice perk). Delegating to others shows that you have confidence in their abilities, which subsequently results in higher morale in the workplace, as well as loyalty from your staff. They want to feel appreciated and trusted.

Although Steve Jobs was known for focusing in on the smallest of details, he knew how to delegate. By finding, cultivating, and trusting capable team members, Jobs was able to make Apple run smoothly, even when he had to be absent for extended periods of time.

To know when and how to delegate work to team members, you have to be very familiar with each of them:

  • List out all of their strengths, weaknesses, and personalities.
  • Talk with your team members more to know about their passion and interests.

Take a look at this guide and learn more about delegation: How to Delegate Work Effectively (The Definitive Guide for Leaders)

7. Growth Mindset

Any good leader knows how important it is to develop the skills of those around them. The best can recognize those skills early on. Not only will development make work easier as they improve and grow, it will also foster morale. In addition, they may develop some skills that you don’t possess that will be beneficial to the workplace.

Great leaders share their knowledge with the team and give them the opportunity to achieve. This is how leaders gain their respect and loyalty.

Pope Francis has been unusually popular with many Catholics and many non-Catholics. His position isn’t totally traditional, which is part of his appeal, but he also has admirable leadership skills. Pope Francis’s TED talk[4] drew attention because he encouraged leaders to be humble and to demonstrate solidarity with others. This inclusive, kind, and respectful style of leadership is incredibly important for any situation.

It’s important to spend time talking with other team members individually to understand them.

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Find out team members’ current challenges and try to give feedback and encouragement so they will grow and do better.

8. Responsibility

Great leaders know that when it comes to their company, work place or whatever situation they’re in, they need to take personal responsibility for failure. How can they expect employees to hold themselves accountable if they themselves don’t?

The best leaders don’t make excuses; they take the blame and then work out how to fix the problem as soon as possible. This proves that they’re trustworthy and possess integrity.

Howard Gillman is the chancellor of UC Irvine. You might have heard of how the university rescinded a bunch of acceptances, and then changed its mind[5], This past spring, an unusually high number of accepted students decided to matriculate; the school initially responded by rescinding offers over things like missed deadlines. But the college realized this was a mistake and reversed its decision. Gillman and the university accepted responsibility and decided to move past their earlier bad decision.

Always ask yourself what you can do better or what you should change. Take responsibility and think about what you can do better to prevent this from happening next time.

9. A Desire to Learn

It’s safe to say that all great leaders will have to enter unchartered waters at some point during their career. Because of this, they have to be able to trust their intuition and draw on past experiences to guide them.

Great leaders know that there’s always something to learn from everything they have experienced before. They are able to connect the present challenges with the lessons learned in the past to make decisions and take actions promptly.

You can either recall what you’ve learned from your memories or search your notes (ideally, a software that you can access anywhere with things well-organized).

Warren Buffett, one of the richest people in the world, has mostly made the right calls. But in dealing with huge amounts of money, Buffett has also made several multi-million (and sometimes multi-billion) dollar mistakes. He has stated that buying the company Berkshire Hathaway was his biggest mistake[6]. From that poor choice, he realized that it was unwise to pursue “improvements” and “expansions” in the existing textile industry. Despite mistakes like this, Buffett has invested wisely, and it shows.

To effectively learn from the past, write down lessons you’ve learned from any mistakes you’ve made. Have all the lessons well organized, and when similar things happen again in future, take these lessons as references.

The Bottom Line

Leadership traits are learnable. If you practice consistently, you can be a great leader, too.

Make small changes to your habits when you work with your team, wherever that may be. Most of us aren’t presidents or CEOs, but we all work with other people, and our actions always impact others. This gives every person the chance to develop leadership skills and to stand out from the crowd.

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Featured photo credit: Markus Spiske via unsplash.com

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